「行くよ」 (Iku yo)
“Here We Go”
And with that it’s all over – at least for the next few months. There should be no real shocker with 86’s midpoint conclusion this week: Spearhead found the ending they were destined to see, and Lena came to if not acceptance a willingness to at least ensure they are not forgotten and their sacrifice isn’t in vain. Obviously it’s not the actual ending of course given the second half airing in fall (let your imagination run wild on that), but as an ending it easily checks off all the necessary parts.
Given everything we’ve seen and the realization of more to come there’s two ways to think of 86 thus far. You can see this finale in the conventional anime sense as overly disappointing, a continuation of last week’s venturing into Spearhead’s headfirst thrust into fate which didn’t really provide a good taste of future events we all know are coming. Or you can take it as originally intended (considering this series’ origins as a one-off), a singular tale not meant to give a proper conclusion as much as a relay that there’s nothing at this point left to tell. For Lena and Spearhead, their mission and purpose as defined from the start is now quite literally over.
Highlighting this aspect best is the presence of All Quiet on the Western Front in Spearhead’s quarters. Much like Remarque’s tale 86 thus far isn’t meant to be a glorification of war, but rather a sombre take on the costs and consequences war forces onto the shoulders of its participants. War twists you, takes from you, irrevocably changes you; as Shin, Paul Bäumer, and every other soldier (looking at you in particular Lev) have discovered since time immemorial, often the only thing which can bring peace after such experiences is the serenity of death. Shin of course tried to spare his comrades and give them the chance at life in comparison to Paul despairingly witnessing his own fall around him, but I think we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. Spearhead went out the way they came in, and not a single one regretted the choice they made.
Such melancholic finality, however, does bely the elephant in the room of what’s coming, and though tearful acceptance was this episode’s intent, teasers were still present for those looking to what happens next. The big one of course is that artillery system Legion is employing; I don’t think I need to say much about how angry imperial guard and flashbacks of royalty point to a new enemy perfectly capable of sundering San Magnolia’s defenses. Then there’s also the increasing presence of Legion itself which while likely given how far Spearhead penetrated, also suggests a buildup for a major attack. In short, Spearhead’s liquidation has done nothing to interfere with any potential hammer drop, and indeed might have even accelerated matters. Clouds have been on 86’s horizon for a while now, but the first flashes of lightning are now visible and it won’t be long before the thunder claps rings across the sky.
Whether or not Spearhead is around to see the show is fully up in the air (as with all anime protagonists, doubt death until emphatically confirmed – ethereal scenes included), but rest assured Lena herself won’t be far from the action. House arrest or not – and some arrest that turned out to be – she’s on a mission, and it’s one which could have far greater impact than even she realizes.
Season-long wait or not, good idea to get ready for it now boys and girls, because while 86 may have indulged in the darker side these past couple of weeks, something tells me the real suffering has yet to properly begin – and I shall be here with you all again to see it once fall finally rolls around. Well, after finding out what that special episode holds of course!